Brazoria County, TX—The widow of a man who died from the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma has been awarded over $1 million in compensation.
A Brazoria County jury made the award on October 5, 2009, to the wife of Danny Puckett, who together with the retired industrial engineer and oil field consultant had filed suit against several defendants. Some of the defendants either settled out of court or were dismissed from the case, but two remained: Montello, Inc. and Union Carbide. Each were found 15 percent liable in the case, which alleged that Puckett had contracted mesothelioma while working with asbestos-containing cement additives during his work at Dowell Company.
Puckett, who was 59 at the time of his death, worked at Dowell Company from 1975 to 1985, first as part of the cement crew and later as a supervisor. Before his death, Puckett testified that he had used asbestos mud additives three or four times a week, for four to five years. He said that the air was so thick with asbestos dust that it was like a “continuous smokestack,” and that he was unable to see a street light through the particulate.
When asbestos particulate is released into the air, the microscopic fibers of which it is composed can be inhaled. Once inside the body, they cannot be breathed out or otherwise removed; instead, they lodge themselves in the lining of the chest wall and outer covering of the lungs, called the mesothelium. From there they can develop into the rare, but very stubborn, cancer mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is an unusual form of cancer, as well, because it is often not detected until years or sometimes decades after the exposure to asbestos has taken place. It can remain latent, but developing, within the body, and is usually diagnosed in its later stages, when it is inoperable.
Puckett was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in October 2008 and died not long after. Mesothelioma patients, on average, have a life expectancy of only 18 months. His wife, to whom he had been married 23 years, was awarded $1.2 million in the asbestos exposure case.